Friday, March 31, 2017

Kelly Mark | For Some Reason I Have Two Copies of this Book

Kelly Mark
For Some Reason I Have Two Copies of this Book
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2017
5.75” x 8.25" x 1"
Unlimited edition, sold as a pair

Mark's debut exhibition with Olga Koper gallery Back Burner opens tomorrow at 2pm and continues until April 22nd. For more information visit the gallery site, here.

Keith Haring | Inflatable Baby

Keith Haring
Inflatable Baby 
New York City, USA: The Pop Shop, 1985
83 x 52 x 15 cm. (inflated) 15 x 17 x 5.5 cm. (box)
Edition size unknown

Haring's crawling figure - dubbed "the radiant baby" by Rene Ricard - appeared in the artist's work as early as 1980, and is often considered one of Haring's most important visual motifs. By 1981 the image had become the signature tag for his subway graffiti, though he demurred in '83 when the New York Post asked if the image was a self-portrait. "Not necessarily," he replied, "it's more of an archetypal child. Any human".

Because of Haring's involvement with the Jesus Movement in the decade prior, some critics have interpreted the image as representing Christ. The Jesus Movement began on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and spread throughout North America, Europe, and Central America, before subsiding in the '80s. Members of the grassroots evangelical hippy scene were called Jesus people, or Jesus freaks. Haring encountered the movement in his early teens.

"I was considered a freak, a Jesus Freak," he told biographer John Gruen. "I tried to convince others to be born again and it just annoyed people". After the discovery of drugs, and later the New York club scene, Haring's interest in the Jesus movement faded, but some of the iconography remained.

Haring considered the image of the infant “the purest and most positive experience of human existence.” The figure appeared in countless drawings, often as a stand-alone, but also in more narrative works: the baby being birthed to a mother while she simultaneously is zapped by a UFO, the baby as part of a nativity scene, the baby engulfed in a mushroom cloud, etc. etc. 

The first multiple to feature the Radiant Child image was a small lapel button that Haring self-published to distribute to people he met while tagging. "Sometimes they express such sincere interest that I would like to give them a souvenir," he said.

In April of 1986 Haring opened The Pop Shop at 292 Lafayette Street in SoHo, as a place to sell these types of 'souvenirs':

"Here's the philosophy behind the Pop Shop: I wanted to continue the same sort of communication as with the subway drawings. I wanted to attract the same wide range of people and I wanted it to be a place where, yes, not only collectors could come, but also kids from the Bronx … this was still an art statement."

The Inflatable Baby was sold at the Pop Shop as an affordable, inflatable sculpture. Housed in a small serigraphed cardboard box (white, later red), the vinyl multiple inflated to a length of 83 cm. Intended as an open edition, it is unclear how many were produced and the work is no longer in production.

A copy sold at Christies a year and a half ago for $775 US. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Jeff Koons | Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Paddle Ball Game

Jeff Koons
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Paddle Ball Game
Berlin, Germany: Deutsche Guggenheim, 2000
31.7 x 20.2 x 6.5 cm.
Edition of 900

Thermoprint on birchwood with painted, metal and string. Stamped on verso: "copyright Jeff koons 2000 for the deutsche guggenheim berlin". The work originally sold for around sixty dollars. Copies are now offered for between two and three thousand.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lee Henderson selected as the Canadian winner of the 2017 Glenfiddich Residency Prize

Toronto artist Lee Henderson has been chosen by curator Andy Fairgrieve to be this year's 2017 Glenfiddich Artist in Residence. Henderson will travel to Dufftown Scotland in June of this year, where he will live for three months researching local ghost stories and reanimating them electronically. For me, the piece foregrounds the humour that has always been an important part of Henderson's investigations into mortality. And - remembering some of the town residents and Glenfiddich staff from when was there in 2008 - I can imagine them responding very well to this work.

Visit Henderson's site here, the site of his gallerist (Zalucky Contemporary) here, and the Glenfiddich site, here. The full press release is below.

"Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Lee Henderson has today been announced as the winner of the 2017 Canadian Glenfiddich® Artists in Residence Prize. This summer he will travel to the Glenfiddich® Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, where he will produce a work that will examine the multiple meanings of the word 'spirit' and "consider whisky as a vehicle for commemoration and an expedient to shared rituals of mourning".

Henderson works in a variety of media, including video, photography, installation, sculpture, and performance, producing elegant investigations into mortality. "But they're typically funny," he says, "…the way that King Lear is funny". During his three-month residency, he will explore past local legends and ghost stories, and then set about re-haunting the spaces electronically.

Henderson is one of only seven artists from around the world awarded the prize, which is one of the most coveted residency prizes in the arts. The selected artists will live and work at the Glenfiddich® distillery in Northern Scotland, near the historic Balvenie Castle.

Celebrating its sixteenth year, the Glenfiddich® Artists in Residence Prize includes travel and living expenses, as well as providing artists with a significant production budget to create and present a new work on-site. Valued at $20,000 per artist, the Residency Prize represents the Glenfiddich® commitment to the arts and the communities it serves.

Andy Fairgrieve, curator of the Glenfiddich® Artists in Residence Prize, shared the news from Dufftown, earlier today. "We are very proud that the Artists in Residence Prize appeals to so many of Canada's leading and emerging artists," he says, noting the high number of applicants this year. Following an Open Call process, a jury of seven Canadian artists and art professionals creates a short list of ten artists, from which Fairgrieve makes the final selection.

In relation to Lee Henderson's residency proposal Fairgrieve says, "Lee's ideas surrounding spirits is of course very apt at Glenfiddich, referencing not only our single malt whisky but the haunting beautiful and historic landscape surrounding the distillery itself. His proposal to create apparitional interventions around Glenfiddich is one I look forward seeing being brought into reality and I am sure will be enjoyed by the Glenfiddich workers and local residents of Dufftown.

Upon learning of his win, Henderson stated, "I'm totally thrilled and honoured, and can't wait to start the project." He will travel to Dufftown in early June. Fairgrieve will be in Toronto this week to meet Henderson in advance of the summer residency.

The Glenfiddich® Artists in Residence Prize has sponsored more than 100 artists since its inception since 2002. Canadian artists include Eleanor King (2016), Jon Sasaki (2015), Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky (2014), Daniel Barrow (2013), Jillian Mcdonald (2012), Helen Cho (2011), Damian Moppett (2010), Arabella Campbell (2009), Dave Dyment (2008), Jonathon Kaiser (2007), Annie Pootoogook (2006) and Myfanwy Macleod (2005).

This year's distinguished jury panel included Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University; Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery; Michelle Jacques, Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Kristy Trinier, Director of Visual, Digital and Media Arts at the Banff Centre; Ivan Jurakic, Director of the University of Waterloo Art Gallery; Stefan Hancherow, independent curator and Director of the 2015 Feature Art Fair, and the Canadian 2008 Glenfiddich® Artists in Residence Prize recipient, Dave Dyment."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tom Sachs | Barbie Slave Ship

Tom Sachs
Barbie Slave Ship
New York City, USA: Self-published, 2013
56 pp., 5.5” x 8.5”, hand-sewn
Edition of 400

Now in it's third edition (first 200 copies, second 100 copies, third 100 copies), this slim volume was originally produced on the occasion of the Barbie Slave Ship exhibition at the Biennale de Lyon, 12 September 2013 – 5 January 2014.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rob Pruitt | Graffiti Chair

Rob Pruitt
Graffiti Chair
New York City, USA: Exhibition A, 2015
18.5" x 3" x 38.35"
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies

Pruitt's 2014 solo exhibition Multiple Personalities at Gavin Brown's Enterprise featured a series of sofas “tricked out with tangles of images from comics, cartoons, and advertising" (Roberta Smith, New York Times). Hand-drawn images of Hillary Clinton, Sigmund Freud, Kanye West, Mr. Bean and the Queen combined with phrases like "Sloth Cock", "Burger Man", "Pizza Dick", "RIP Bon Jovi" and "Julian Schnabel is my life coach."

This vinyl wrap on metal folding chair followed a year late, with more corporate logos (Kodak, KFC) cartoon characters (Felix the Cat, Family Guy's Stewie), beer bottles, basket balls and other juvenile scrawling. The work is accompanied by certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by the artist.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998

Raymond Pettibon
Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998
New York City, USA: Distributed Art Publishers, 2000
992 pp., 2.5 x 6.2 x 8.8", hardcover
Edition size unknown

"For over twenty years, Raymond Pettibon's drawings have earned an international following for their fluid style and youthful, iconoclastic outlook. His work is acclaimed for its wit and erudite eccentricities, and reveals an affinity for a diverse group of authors, from Baudelaire to Henry James to Mickey Spillane, whose quotations abound in his drawings. This book is a catalogue raisonne of his artist books produced between 1978 and 1998, many of which are now extremely rare and highly collected in both the art world and underground music circles. Popularized by small, independent music labels and publishers like SST and Superflux, these booklets and zines were originally available only in very small print runs, edition sizes ranged from 30 to 150 copies, where Pettibon's rough yet cultivated style became synonymous with the late 70s and early 80s D.I.Y. aesthetic. Presenting over a hundred of Pettibon's publications, 32 printed in their entirety with two of these published for the first time, this very limited edition hardcover is a valuable look at the development of one of the most significant artists from the last quarter century."

- publishers blurb

Ben Vautier | Me Ben I Sign

Ben Vautier
Me Ben I Sign
Cranleigh, UK : Beau Geste Press, 1975
30 pp., 14.7 x 10.7 cm., stitch binding
Edition of 950

Writings by Vautier about his early works, some realized others not.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Liz Knox book launch and exhibition tonight

Savage Love is a syndicated sex-advice column by author and activist Dan Savage. It began in 1991 in the debut issue of the Seattle alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger, and is now featured in dozens of North American, European and Asian weeklies, including NYC’s The Village Voice, the San Francisco Weekly and Toronto’s NOW magazine. Perhaps best known for repurposing the name Santorum, the column features answers to readers’ letters on a wide-range of topics including pegging, rimming, cuckolding, saddlebacking, coming out to fundamentalist parents, debunking donkey punching, and finding out your elderly father is considering a mail-order bride. 

Vancouver-based artist Liz Knox has scoured the comments sections of the online archives of Savage Love and lovingly compiled a new 245-page bookwork titled Commentariat

The comment threads were first opened on the website of The Stranger in 2008, and Knox' book presents a representative sampling of eight years worth of activity, essentially providing a snapshot of the sexual politics of the era of the Obama administration. 

"I selected one or two comments per weekly column," says Knox, "...more when there were controversies, elections, scandals, etc." The text weaves a compilation of comments relating to recent political events through personal anecdotes, topical news, exuberance, and outrage. 

The work is the cornerstone of a new exhibition of the same name which opens tonight at Yactac, at 855 East Hastings. Accompanying pages of the book pinned to the wall is a series of new drawings - fictional portraits of some of the online contributors. 

"I made line drawings based on friends' Facebook photos, choosing to draw the friends and colleagues who I would cast to play the commenters in the movie of the book (that I would never make)." 

The work continues Knox' investigation into the intersection of romance and politics that also includes her 2012 bookwork Missed Connections. Missed Connections collects personal ads from Craigslist posted during or relating to the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Commentariat is available at the opening tonight, or from the artist directly, for $20, here

The Commentariat
Yactac @ Red Gate Arts Society
855 East Hastings Street

Opening Thursday March 23rd, 7-10pm
Exhibition runs March 24 - Apr 1
Fri & Sat, Noon - 5pm & by appointment

Jeremy Deller | The Battle of Orgreave

Jeremy Deller
The Battle of Orgreave (photo album)
London, UK: Artangel, 2001
4.75 x 7.125 x 0.25”
Edition of 150 signed and numbered copies

The last of the deep coal mining pits in the UK closed a little over a year ago, in December of 2015, with layoffs to 450 workers. In the first half of the 20th century there were over a thousand collieries in the country. By 1983, only 174 working pits remained.

In 1984, the Thatcher government announced plans to close an additional 20 collieries, with a loss of over 20,000 jobs. Many communities in Northern England, Scotland and Wales stood to lose their primary source of employment. This led to the largest strike in the country since the 1926 General Strike. At its peak, 142,000 mineworkers were involved.

On June 18th, police in riot gear clashed with picketing miners outside of a coking plant in the South Yorkshire village of Orgreave. Writing last year in the Guardian newspaper, historian Tristram Hunt described the confrontation as "almost medieval in its choreography... at various stages a siege, a battle, a chase, a rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalized state violence."

Accounts vary, but between six and nine thousand officers were deployed to respond to eight thousand picketers. Between forty and sixty of the officers were on horseback, and several thousand were in full riot gear. They were assisted by dozens of attack dogs. The mounted police charged against the picketing miners, striking them with batons and seriously injuring over a hundred participants.

Harry Paterson writes in Look Back in Anger; the Miners’ Strike in Nottingham (Five Leaves, 2014) that the picketers were "mercilessly battered by police officers in full riot-gear, flailing away indiscriminately with truncheons, while mounted officers charged fleeing bands of men, desperate to escape. On the miners’ side, barricades were erected and bricks and stones were hurled into the mêlée. A car from a nearby scrap-yard was dragged into the middle of the road and set alight and police pursued the miners into the nearby village, through gardens and houses, hammering down all they caught."

Television footage was edited to make it appear that the miners had instigated the police by throwing rocks, causing them to retaliate in self-defense. Not until 1991 did the British Broadcasting Corporation offer an apology for misleading the public about the event, by claiming that the footage had been “inadvertently reversed” and that the stone-throwing was actually a result of police aggression.

Paterson argues that that there is little doubt that the police action was "pre-planned, deliberate and sanctioned at the highest level of the South Yorkshire force." Barrister Michael Mansfield agrees: "They wanted to teach the miners a lesson – a big lesson, such that they wouldn't come out in force again."

Right-wing political activist and Margaret Thatcher’s favourite fixer David Hart confirmed as much in 1993: “It was a set-up by us on a battle ground of our choosing.  The fact is that it was a set-up and it worked brilliantly.”

Calls for public inquiries into the handling of the police action have been routinely rejected, as recently as last year. Former editor of the conservative magazine the Spectator, Charles Moore celebrated the recent rejection as a victory, suggesting that any inquiry would be a "travesty", and a sure indication that we "would have entered the world according to [left-wing filmmaker] Ken Loach."

On June 17th, 2001, the battle that has been called "one of the most violent clashes in British industrial history" became the subject of a work by artist Jeremy Deller. Working with the events company EventPlan Ltd and a cast of almost a thousand, he staged a re-enactment of the action. Whereas most historical re-enactments favour deep history, such as the Civil War, or Medieval battles for cosplay enthusiasts, The Battle of Orgreave re-enacts something from living memory, only seventeen years prior.

Alongside over five hundred seasoned re-enactors, approximately 280 local residents took part in the performance, including many picketers and police officers who were involved in the original encounter. Deller reportedly arranged to have the officers portraying the miners and vice-versa.

The event became the subject of a Channel 4 documentary by Hollywood filmmaker Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Timecode, etc). It is available on DVD from Cornerhouse publications here, and can be viewed on Youtube, here.

The above edition, valued at approximately £2500, consists of 19 chromogenic prints on Fujicolour Professional paper, housed in a plastic photo album and cardboard box with a rubber-stamped title. It periodically appears at Paddle8 charitable auctions.

"In 1998 I saw an advert for an open commission for Artangel. For years I had had this idea to re-enact this confrontation that I had witnessed as a young person on TV, of striking miners being chased up a hill and pursued through a village. It has since become an iconic image of the 1984 strike – having the quality of a war scene rather than a labour dispute. I received the commission, which I couldn't believe, because I actually didn't think it was possible to do this. After two years' research, the re-enactment finally happened, with about eight-hundred historical re-enactors and two-hundred former miners who had been part of the original conflict. Basically, I was asking the re-enactors to participate in the staging of a battle that occurred within living memory, alongside veterans of the campaign. I've always described it as digging up a corpse and giving it a proper post-mortem, or as a thousand-person crime re-enactment.”

- Jeremy Deller